Dealing with racism and corruption is essential, but some recent actions have been counterproductive
BY CHRIS ROSE
I found the video of George Floyd so difficult to watch I was almost unable to breathe. I am glad the four former officers have been arrested and charged. Such hideous tragedies evoke raw emotions – and the highly sensitive relationship between the African American community and the Police has always been fraught.
There’s a lot of nuance to be considered in this debate, often missed when people sling “Black Lives Matter” and “All Lives Matter” at each other. I have always viewed the US police as heavy handed at times, and understand the anger. However, when I read about black-owned businesses being trashed, burnt down and David Dorn, a black retired police caption being shot dead by looters, it becomes clear that this isn’t the constructive change we need.
We’re in the middle of a pandemic, with the risk of a second wave to keep in mind. I don’t think it’s right, in this context, to gather in mass protest whilst ignoring social distancing rules. Understandably some fair, peaceful protests went ahead in response to police brutality; what made me angry was seeing businesses, closed down for lockdown, being looted and destroyed by opportunists.
Clearly groups like ANTIFA were involved, with looters and rioters from a range of racial backgrounds. These terrible actions affect predominately black neighbourhoods, so it was shocking to see a fair amount of white celebrities encouraging this behaviour. What made it even worse is that they were more concerned with donating money to bail out those associated with the crimes than helping the victims, the often black store owners of small independent businesses.
Over in the UK, the same people obsessing over the lockdown and fulminating over Dominic Cummings suddenly had no issue with a mass protest in London.
Of course, the British police has its own problems, but I couldn’t understand why some protesters turned their anger to hurling objects – particularly at the gates of Downing Street – as well as kicking off physical altercations with journalists and the Police. They seemed to be enjoying it, which makes me wonder if their presence at the protest was ever really about George Floyd.
When it comes to corruption in the police force, people across the political spectrum are aware of it. From Rodney King, Stephen Lawrence and George Floyd to Hillsborough and the grooming gangs scandal, there’s clearly been a need for reforms and still more needs to be done. For example, turning off body cameras shouldn’t be allowed unless the officer has a very good reason to do so.
I’ve known since I was a toddler that trust between the black community and the police was always very low. It’ll take more than black squares, hashtags and politicians doing a tweet about it for likes and self gratification to change this. We’ll continue to see people from various sides grandstanding on this matter. It will be interesting to see who is still supporting the cause of real fairness and justice when the news cycle has moved on – and the real hard work starts to happen.
Chris Rose is an architect and Conservative influencer. Follow him on twitter: @ArchRose90